I wrote in a Newsletter recently that early season form, come the end of November, would be proved worthless and that comment applies to races such as that we witnessed yesterday at Kempton. The only similarity that race will have to a Champion hurdle is that the first two home will be at Cheltenham…..but the runner up looking more likely to go for the World hurdle.
I have watched the race back several times and what was, in effect, a two horse race, was run at a false pace, that became a sprint between the final two hurdles. I was thinking early doors that Rock On Ruby looked anything but ready for this race. His head was cocked, he hurdled like a novice, his trademark blinkers had been left off and he just looked totally short of match practice.
By contrast The New One did everything absolutely spot on. However, this race and track suited his style of running. Kempton is a sharp track and comparing it to Cheltenham is like comparing chalk to cheese. The betting told a tale. Nigel Twiston-Davies always has his horses ripe at this time of the season and The New One should have been up to winning this, him being the highest rated novice hurdler since Iris’s Gift in 2003. Harry Fry introduced his horse this early in the season purely and simply because Rock On Ruby has become so hard to get fit at home. So, a true two miler, fit, ready against a horse known to be hard to get fit, blinkers off, running around a greyhound track compared to Cheltenham. The 1/2 about The New One yesterday was pure gold.
But what about the 5/1 for the Champion hurdle? Fancy it? Me?…no. There will be a race takes place in Ireland next month that will be of much more interest than that one yesterday. Our Conor will take on the reigning champion Hurricane Fly in the Morgiana hurdle….Punchestown, November 16th….and yesterday Dessie Hughes was pleased as punch with the run of Our Conor in the Naas 4-55, a 12 furlong flat race for which some lunatics punted him into 5/2 favourite. He was not going to get beaten up in that one yesterday and under hands and heels he took fourth place.
I have absolutely no doubt The New One is a serious piece of kit and his Cheltenham form stands up to more that just scrutiny, it’s top of the pops but, to put him up at 5/1 for the Champion off the back of a race which he could not lose is madness. I ask myself, would I not have expected Hurricane Fly or Our Conor to have won that race in similar fashion and the answer has to be yes so, they can keep the 5/1, I’ll wait until the end of November before even considering a play ante-post.